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Of Men And Monsters Tom Deady Main

"Of Men and Monsters" Book Review

Written by Sean M. Sanford

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing

of men and monsters tom deady poster large

Written by Tom Deady
2021, 88 pages, Fiction
Released on May 28th, 2021


Populated by ghost stories, closet dwellers, mirror specters, and unnerving campfire ditties, childhood is often accented with some of horror’s best shit. Most of which clouds over with the sunrise, be that of a new day or a life that has ripened to battle one’s more tangible fears.

My dad always had a really great singing voice, and he used to serenade our campfires (deep in the woods, next to the river, alone as fuck) with a song that howled about a woman, “…all skin and boe-oon’s/ she lived in the gray-ave-yard ah-all alone.” Each rhyme punctuated with chanted howls that would make my holy shit skin crawl. Those howls would echo in my mind later, as I lay in my tent, hearing stirs of the forest’s nightlife.

Then one year, a child at my school vanished without a trace. I imagined him being enveloped beneath the cloak of this songful mistress. All skin and bones.

Which brings me to another brand of terror that tends to accompany childhood: the dangers that manifest via life’s real monsters, be they strangers on the street, relatives, friends of parents, or, sadly, sometimes the parents themselves. Maybe facing the monsters of lore can help ready us for the monsters who sleep down the hall; but the fact is, we scarcely feel completely ready to face that brand of monster. Yet sometimes facing them is our only option.

Of Men and Monsters tells the story of Ryan and Matt, two young brothers and their mom, Paula. Ryan is 11 and Matt is 14. They’ve just moved to a rustic house, seaside in Bayport, MA. Paula has no trouble finding work at the nearby diner, and the two boys are quick to meet a seaside crew of peers with whom they can maraud. They also each strike the fancy of a couple of young ladies from down the way.

Sounds dope, right?

Thing is, they didn’t move to this working-class beachside community, so much as from somewhere else. And they all wear the realization that what they had skirted away from is likely to have half a mind to be on their trail. Therein a pigment of suspense, like the tide, moves in and out but is always there.

So, they try to ignore it. They do kid shit, like find distractions anywhere they can. A box of comic books found up in the attic (Gasp!) tends to suffice. Comic books with old ads for useless garbage…and Sea Monsters. Yup, Sea Monsters. Like Sea Monkeys but, you know, more monstrous. At least so it says, and Ryan takes the bait.

Turns out not all advertising is false, and Ryan is now on a whole new front: not letting mom find out about his aquatic nightmare that’s ripening in the bathtub upstairs.

This book is wonderfully written in Ryan’s first-person as he and his family learn to negotiate arms against the monsters in their lives, be they found in funny books or the bus ride home. Amongst the horror lies the story of a troop of characters who feel real enough to reflect on well after reading. Partly because Tom Deady does a great job bringing us Ryan’s story, not in the voice of an 11-year-old, but that of a grown-up who went through some serious shit when he was young. This makes it feel more authentic in a way. Remembering childhood can be a sketchy-ass trip.

This is a novelette that finds ways in not wasting a single word or sentiment, to load up a mere 80 pages or so with a world of truth behind its story; like the grips of curiosity, learning, and terror that come with growing up, and facing some of the creatures who dwell just beneath the surface.

And that kid at my school? Turns out he had been hiding in his closet the whole time, sheltering himself from whatever lived beneath his bed. Fuckin childhood, dude.


Overall: 5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Sean M. Sanford
Author: Sean M. Sanford
Staff Reviewer - USA
Sean M. Sanford was born and raised in the Sierra foothills of California on a haunted ranch that was constantly trying to remind him how wonderful it is being scared shitless. He later moved to San Francisco where he currently resides in an apartment that may or may not be cursed. With so many horrific dimensions to his life, Sanford has been known to revel since birth in scary movies, novels, comic books, and tales told by friends and loved ones. He writes fiction for the skateboarding magazine Lowcard, through which he has a collection of stories and photos called A Manbaby’s Requiem. He also wrote fiction for the online periodical Defiant Scribe. He writes book reviews for Night Worms, and Horror Oasis, and has written horror movie articles for the website, The Infinite Eleven. He has an Instagram account all about books, called @skaters_who_read. He and his wife Candice have started a homemade incense company called Effin Relax, and he’s been known to burn said fragrances during the scariest of movies to help calm his nerves. He looks forward to being the most freaky and creative spirit once he’s left this mortal coil.
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